It’s an incredibly emotional question to ask because after all the sacrifice, hard work and tough decisions you’ve made for others, you must think about you.
Are you taking the steps to make that dream a reality?
Planning for retirement is hard, period. A lot of difficult questions must be asked. The same emotions that make you feel good when you think about your ideal retirement cruelly works against you when you need to take the steps to follow through on your dream.
I’m here to tell you: I’m with you! You’re not alone!
It’s with this in mind that the Patchogue-Medford Library and FINRA have partnered to bring Financial Literacy classes to the community. Did you know that even though 24% of people are not at all confident about their retirement plans (Writer’s note: hi) , that 37% are somewhat confident and that 18% are very confident (Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Annual Retirement Confidence Survey) about their retirement plans? What does this tell us?
It means that not only are you not alone in being worried about your retirement plan, but that there are a large number of Americans who are somewhat comfortable or better. It’s likely that the Americans who are now somewhat comfortable also shared had anxieties about their future and took steps to make it better. Nothing makes them different than you and I. Except more money. But we’ll get there. With these 3 simple steps, you can begin to put yourself on the same level as the group of Americans that are confident about their retirement plans. Want to know these three simple steps? Read on!
Step 1: Talk about it!
Are you looking to take concrete steps towards your financial and retirement plans? Don’t be afraid to talk about it! Be honest and forthright, because you’ll soon learn that the people around you have similar feelings and a passion for talking about their best future. As you start to talk about your retirement plan, you may come to realize that your boss / co-worker has been participating in an employer-sponsored financial literacy class, or that a friend who eats out every Friday has been trying to cut back because they’ve been dreaming about helping pay for their daughter’s wedding. As you start to let your dreams become known, you will develop a network of people who honestly want to help you reach your financial goals. A support network is around you, but you won’t know if you don’t talk about it!
Here are two suggestions to get you started:
- Talk to your employer and ask if they offer any kind of financial literacy classes or retirement planning options. The answer may surprise you!
- Talk to your partner or the person that shares financial decisions with you. This is a challenge for
almosteveryone. But again: picture yourself in 25 years with this very person. Do you see yourselves living blissfully in retirement? Chances are, you share the same plans…of being happy. Take a look at this short article from the NY Times and How to talk Money with your spouse. Jezebel also has a great article about talking money with your friends.
Step 2: Create a realistic Budget (…and don’t be afraid to go over every once and a while…)
I was shocked to find out that I was spending close to 700 dollars a month on chocolate for the past five years (Not really…but talking about budgets isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. Did I get your attention?). When you start combing through your everyday purchases, you start to identify places where you can start to cut back. Again, you may be surprised that small, everyday purchases can become a large part of your spending for the month. Just take a look and see where you could be saving.
- Go to Live-Brary.com’s Financial Literacy Topic Guide to get great resources on creating a budget (Full Disclosure: I created the Financial Literacy Topic Guide. I’m always looking for feedback too if you think I missed something.)
- Don’t be discouraged if you go over your budget in the beginning. One of my passions is studying resilience, which is how people get through hard times. This Psychology Today Article on Resilience explains what it is, and how to develop it. The most important part I’ve learned about resilience is that it’s a learned trait. Everyone has the ability within them, which is an amazing thing.
Step 3: Evaluate and Start Saving!
Nobody says you have to be a wall-street hot shot to have a successful retirement plan. In fact, studies show that active wealth-managers don’t outperform the market!
- Be aware of tools to evaluate retirement plans that are free like Morningstar’s Investment Research Tools (Available online for free with your library card), FINRA Investor Education Tools, and
- Ask the right questions with the USA.gov’s post on choosing a financial adviser, and visit the Consumer Financial Protection Board’s page: “Know your Financial Adviser“
- Always Check your broker with FINRA’s Brokercheck.org
- Remember Step 1? Share your successes, failures, questions and concerns with those that want to see your succeed. We’re here for you!
Books in the Library: